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Album review

Culture Club 

20th Anniversary - Live at the Royal Albert Hall 2002

added: 9 Jul 2013 // release date: 8 Jul 2013 // label: Angel Air Records
reviewer: Claudia A

Culture Club - 20th Anniversary - Live at the Royal Albert Hall 2002 - Printable version
Love him or loathe him, there’s no denying that Boy George has one of the finest voices in showbiz, and more charisma and attitude than a drag joint has mirrors on the wall! There’s also no denying that the historic, sold-out show of Culture Club’s 20th anniversary concert will be remembered by his many fans as an absolute highlight!

United for two concerts only, one in Liverpool and the other at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, Culture Club proved that they still possessed the same magic as back in their heydays. Boy George (vocals), Roy Hay (guitar/vocals), Mikey Craig (bass/vocals), and Jon Moss (drums) delivered a show that ticked all the right boxes. Supporting musicians, as well as special guest Lyn Paul (ex-The New Seekers), who had already starred with Boy in the musical Taboo, added to the spectacle. Thanks to Angel Air Records, this slice of magic has just been released as a double disc set (CD and DVD).

There are spanking 17 tracks on the CD, but the DVD contains one additional number excluded on the CD, namely Lyn Paul performing the song ‘Talk Amongst Yourselves’ (from the musical ‘Taboo’) – and what a performance! On the DVD we also get to see the many fans (some of them utter birds of paradise), flocking to the Royal Albert Hall, and explaining to the camera why they love Boy George, and Culture Club.

While many artists reserve their biggest hit for the finale, Boy George decided on a reverse stunt for the show. Aptly made up in baggy trousers and mock-dreadlocks, the first chords, very reggae-like, already gave it away. What else would the number be than ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?’. Beautifully performed, although the band must have been a little tired of the number at that point in their lives, and an absolutely packed venue cheered and sang along.
Next numbers were Black Comedy/I’ll Tumble For You’ and it started out with some sizzling salsa sounds. Not only that, but George had also changed into a camper-than-a-Christmas-tree outfit, obviously bouncing back to his Taboo days.
He performed a string of numbers in this outfit, entertaining the crowd, and generally coming across as versatile, witty, fun, brash, ballsy, well… I could go on.

His backing band shared his enthusiasm and skill, while Mikey, Jon and Roy simply gave their all. Particularly enticing, and well captured on the DVD, are the duets that George sang with Zee Asha, one of his female backing singers.

The repertoire included hits like ‘It’s A Miracle’, ‘Everything I Own’, ‘I Just Wanna Be Loved’, ‘Black Money’, ‘Strange Voodoo’, ‘Church Of The Poisoned Mind’, and the ballad ‘Victims’ during which our flamboyant Boy (after yet another costume change) snarled at the audience “I’m fuckin’ singing a ballad, shut up!” And they did.

Other highlights were a truly rocking rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Starman’, during which Roy Hay had ample opportunity to unleash the beast lurking in his guitar, and – after ‘Karma Chameleon’ – the finale song ‘Bow Down Mister’. For this, assembled guests and cast from the musical Taboo joined Boy and his Culture Club on stage. A truly electrifying finish to a spectacular evening!

CD and DVD perfectly capture the sound quality of the concert, and the DVD furthermore offers some bonus material (selected interviews, and bio- and picture gallery of George O’Dowd/Culture Club).





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5 stars

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